Volume 5, Issue 11, Winter 2010
Active/Reactive Body in Deleuze and Foucault
The paper attempts to establish a methodological complementarity between Foucault’s and Deleuze’s accounts of the body on the basis of Nietzsche’s theory of active and reactive forces systematically elaborated in Deleuze’s Nietzsche et la philosophie. Deleuze’s reading of Nietzsche’s physics of forces opens up two prospective developments of Nietzsche’s legacy: the genealogical critique of the historical body produced by reactive forces on the one hand and the invention of a new unknown body produced by active forces on the other. The paper shows how throughout their careers both Foucault and Deleuze pursue these two divergent yet mutually complementary scenarios respectively. Given the shared background of both thinkers, neither is complete without the other, especially when the question of resistance is at stake. Just as active force is necessarily presupposed by the existence of reactive force in the Nietzschean calculus, Foucault’s reactive body cannot exist without its own inverse, Deleuze’s active ‘body-without-organs’.